Do you automate your marketing journeys?

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Over the past 20 years or so, we have seen the technology landscape change drastically. You only have to look at the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic to see just how much things have grown and how much more choice people have in what they use. Though you can also see just how confusing it can be to know where to start. With 8,000 Martech solutions presented in 2020, up 13.6% from 2019, it can be a bewildering navigation challenge. See this for yourself here, along with a fascinating comparison graphic from 2011 (with only around 150 solutions shown) through each year, to the present time.

It is incredible to look back and see what has changed, yet in this largely digital age of ever-increasing complexity, it is both interesting and curious to see that many organisations still manage significant proportions of communications and ‘journeys’ manually. If we think of a charity example, this could be something as simple as a Christmas appeal with multiple stages:

  • An initial warm-up email to those people able to be contacted via that channel
  • The main appeal communication which brings that same email audience into the mix with direct mail (or other) candidates, likely with varying levels of ask
  • A reminder communication for non-responders, again channel-specific based on consents
  • An individual thank-you communication shortly after a supporter gives a gift to the appeal
  • An end of appeal summary email to ensure supporters know how their gift contributed to the overall campaign and how much was raised
  • All the while ensuring that every individual communication removes exclusions such as deceased or unsubscribed people.

The above is very much a journey, yet each stage or communication is often set up in isolation, sometimes even done separately by channel split, with the effort required at each stage to create the communication audience, ensure correct exclusions of, say, existing responders, and to send the data somewhere for actioning. What is more, this is also done with consideration of staff holidays and dependencies. This often means that scheduling can be restricted to when someone is physically available to push buttons. Whilst it can work, it is more effort, has more points of failure or dependency, and requires greater levels of monitoring.

The perception is often that activities such as multi-part appeals are not ‘journeys’, and that just the term ‘journey’ implies something bigger, more complex, fundamental to the running of the organisation in terms of a strategic workflow. An oft-quoted example is the management of new donors and their ongoing stewardship via the mother of all flow charts. Well yes, that is a journey, but it is just one example, and likely a complex one. Journeys do not necessarily mean complex though, and even a big complex journey could probably be broken down into several smaller, easier to manage sub-journeys. If something goes wrong, it is likely to be easier to find the issue and fix it in a smaller journey too. Thinking of journeys, therefore, as simply a multi-phase activity that can employ even a low level of decision (which could simply be scheduling a series of communications) means that fundraisers and marketers can gain the benefit of marketing automation tools for a significant part of their existing day to day work.

Similarly, journeys are not just digital journeys. Yes, it is true that a digital journey can be more reactive. This being because the immediacy of the data is more or less a given compared to waiting for a direct mail response. But a journey is not just about stringing together activities – it is about ensuring those activities are timely and relevant to the supporter. That means utilising the channels your supporters have consented to or that you have a legitimate interest to use. It is also key to ensure that the correct and most appropriate channel at each and any stage of the journey in relation to the individual supporter. That also means ensuring your marketing automation tool can deal with a wide range of channels and integrations and is not, for example, locked into just digital channels such as email.

Adding a marketing automation component to your arsenal of tools can have great benefits. The combined result of data and technology makes sophisticated, event-driven communications possible, with immediate engagement, trigger response handling, intelligent optimisations, all tracked and reported on. Running as an automated (but, importantly, monitored) process means that not only can communications be managed hands-off and out of hours, but it also leaves staff available to focus on other things like refining supporter targeting, rationalising product offerings, introducing new channels and creating compelling campaign creative.

Are you looking to introduce marketing automation into your organisation, or curious as to how you might move existing communications into a journey model? Please join us for our FREE ‘A Three Month Christmas Appeal In Thirty Minutes’ webinar on 2nd December 2020, where we’ll show a live, interactive* example of a multi-stage, multi-channel appeal. Alternatively, please get in touch with us if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

*Please note that registrants will receive and be able to interact with emails sent out during the demonstration.

Register For The Webinar